Are the faithful truly driven toward companies, businesses and products that align with their theological worldview?
That's the question that brand strategist Chris Stone, founder of the Stone Agency, set out to answer through his "Faith Driven Consumer" initiative, an innovative research project that gauges interest in values-motivated consumer behavior.
Over the past five years, Stone has intensely studied American businesses that are faith friendly -- and those that are not. Among the companies deemed viable for people of faith are Aeropostale, Dollar General, Family Dollar, Kohl's and Belk. And those are only a few of the examples.
But before we get into the profiles on these companies, let's explore FDC's back-story and strategy.
In a world filled with oft-times negative messages and brands, many believers are constantly on the prowl for brands that align with their worldview. So, Stone set out to find consumers whose daily decisions and actions are profoundly impacted by their faith -- and now he's trying to bring them together.
And how many of these Americans are there? According to his estimates: 46 million.
Image source: Faith Driven Consumer
Through scientific polling, he was able to target these individuals.
"[We] looked for people who self-identified as Christian. When you asked them a deeper question: Do you do anything in your life that manifests that -- do you pray, go to church, etc., a significant number fell out," Stone told TheBlaze.
At that point, he said that 60 percent of the Christian pool remained. From there, researchers asked more in-depth questions to further dig down into the most faith-driven among the masses.
In the end, they determined that 15 percent of Americans qualify under this label, as faith has a significant impact on their daily decision-making. Now, Stone is taking this knowledge and using it to help businesses and consumers, alike over at FaithDrivenConsumer.com.
Visitors can find practical shopping guides that offer profiles on faith-friendly companies. Additionally, Stone has built a community where Christians can go to connect with these businesses and with one another.
But Stone did want to make something clear. FDC isn't judging companies on whether they are "good or bad." Instead, he and his firm measure the level of compatibility that these businesses have with people of faith -- something that hasn't been explored before.
Again, it's not an assessment of "good or bad"; it's a look at which attributes will make a business appealing -- and unappealing -- to faith-driven consumers.
Each company is rated on its stance on an array of issues, including the sanctity of human life, wholesome entertainment, non-pornographic materials, charitable nature, sexuality and the family, and corporate responsibility, among others. Below, find brief profiles on just five of the popular brands and companies who meet the faith-friendly criteria:
Getty Images for Aeropostale
The clothing company isn't the strongest when it comes to espousing a Biblical worldview, but based on its online profile, it is relatively in line with Christian values. The company does not embrace pro-choice sentiment (nor does it malign pro-lifers) and it doesn't sell pornographic material.
Here's an overview from the company's profile on the FDC website:
Aeropostale has a philanthropic mindset to serve those in need through clothing assistance. While it relies on third world factories for production, it has monitoring in place to ensure proper care for all employees. It has core values of integrity, respect, teamwork and compassion which align with the Biblical worldview. Its advertising is generally wholesome in a market segment where this is not often the case.
2) Dollar General
Image source: Dollar General
The discount chain has four stars, meaning that it leans pretty strongly toward a Bible worldview (five stars is the highest ranking). While Aeropostale had a relatively high rating on the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index (a measure of how favorable it is to gays and lesbians), Dollar General does not; it's rating is much lower on this metric -- an important one for social conservatives and the faithful.
Additionally, Dollar General has a commitment to servicemen and women and also seems to promote good family values. Here's more from the official FDC profile:
Dollar General has a strong commitment to support American military service members and veterans as well as literacy, education and youth sports programs in local communities. In addition, Dollar General has adopted a biblical view of diversity – with no delineated politically correct categories. Its relatively low score on the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index, which tracks the promotion of the homosexual and transgender political and social agenda in the workplace, indicates a corporate stance leaning toward the biblical teaching on sexuality, marriage and family.
3) Family Dollar
Image source: Family Dollar
Like Dollar General, this chain is pretty faith-friendly, receiving four stars and gaining accolades for helping the poor and those in need in the thousands of local communities where its stores are located.
According to its FDC profile, the company's "low score on the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index, which tracks the promotion of the homosexual and transgender political and social agenda in the workplace, indicates a corporate stance oriented toward the biblical teaching on sexuality, marriage and family."
One of the nation's most popular department stores, Kohl's has made strides to improve its standing on some of the issues that are most important to faith-based consumers. It stopped donating to Planned Parenthood back in 2011, its FDC profile reports, and its policies apparently indicate "a corporate stance that leans toward the natural and traditional family."
The company regularly supports charity efforts that help women, children and the environment. Here's more:
Kohl’s mission is to be the leading family-focused specialty department store. It puts corporate emphasis on charity and volunteer work to support women, children and the environment. Kohl’s has improved its ranking for wholesome entertainment and demonstrated its pro-life commitment by cutting support for Planned Parenthood.
Image source: Belk
Another department story chain, Belk is known for touting Christian values through its foundation (the Belk Foundation) and, according to its FDC profile, the company is committed to its employees and customers. It also has four stars in terms of leaning toward a Biblical worldview.
One of the downsides? Some of the company's ads are apparently suggestive, but this has not disqualified the company from being considered "faith friendly."
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For more faith-friendly companies -- and for a list of businesses that aren't so palatable for people of faith, visit the reviews section of the FDC website. Last year, TheBlaze published a separate list of five businesses that are also known as being faith-friendly.